Manual Billie Holiday: A Biography

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Billie Holiday (1915-1959) / a short biography

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Wishing on the Moon , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 28, Mikey B. This biography brings to life the troubled career of Billie Holiday — definitely one of the major jazz vocalists of the twentieth century. There is no other voice like Billie Holiday. It is unique and unforgettable. She had many obstacles to overcome. She was black and a woman. This book high-lights many of her psychological problems.

She was living with her mother a great deal or her mother was living with her — and they would argue and fight consta This biography brings to life the troubled career of Billie Holiday — definitely one of the major jazz vocalists of the twentieth century. She was living with her mother a great deal or her mother was living with her — and they would argue and fight constantly. Her marriages and relationships were fraught and often physically abusive Billie Holiday could give as good as she got.

Billie Holiday drank a lot from a young age she died at the age of 44 of cirrhosis of the liver. She was emotionally volatile and could be extremely blunt. Some said she had the personality of a twelve-year old. What I liked about this book is the many personal anecdotes in the life of Billie Holiday. And we come away with a picture of the many personalities in the jazz world. Of drugs, alcohol, sex, sleazy night-clubs with sleazy characters exploiting each other.

But also, of wonderful performances of extremely gifted musicians. Unlike some jazz biographies it is not simply a listing of recordings and performances. It was annoying how the writer bounced back and forth chronologically.


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It was poorly written. Sources were not named. But an excellent rendering of this iconic performer.

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Billie Holiday lived through, and put herself emotionally into her songs. Like many of the greatest artists, she roared through life like an express train, staying sane by remaining faithful to the sub-culture in which she found herself; never asking for anything, and certainly not for permission. View all 9 comments.

May 12, Michael Sellars rated it it was amazing. A truly astonishing read. I've been a fan of Billie Holiday since I was about 16 years old, and knew something of her tragic life. Clarke's biography paints a far more complex picture than I'd imagined.

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Here, Holiday is shown to be a genuine paradox. She is a slave to addiction and yet incredibly strong and resilient. She is an irrepressible force of nature whilst being plagued with self doubt. There appear to be so many missed opportunities in her life but, at the same time, it is undeniably co A truly astonishing read. There appear to be so many missed opportunities in her life but, at the same time, it is undeniably complete.

A great book. Jun 20, Phillip rated it really liked it Shelves: music , biography , african-american. Jun 04, Loree Thomas rated it it was amazing. In the beginning of the story, Wishing on the moon the book focused on mainly the era itself, in Harlem, and what was socially accepted, through the segregation of the races.

Through the beginning it spoke on how African Americans would not give into conformity, and in the era a extreme hatred towards the African American community this was rare, because of the battle of social and racial unjust.

Billie Holiday - Wikipedia

Billie Holiday was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April, 7, , she was generally raised by her m In the beginning of the story, Wishing on the moon the book focused on mainly the era itself, in Harlem, and what was socially accepted, through the segregation of the races. Billie Holiday was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April, 7, , she was generally raised by her mother Sadie Fagans. Due to living in severe poverty, Holiday dropped out of the fifth grade, and began to, running errands for a bordello in Baltimore. A year later at age twelve, Holiday and her mother moved to Harlem, Holiday as soon as she entered Harlem, became involved in another bordello, and was arrested for prostitution.

Later it focused on her on the rise, about mid way into the book, because due to the extreme poverty she was in so she began to search for jobs in the entertainment field. Later Billie Holiday looked for work as a dancer at a Harlem speakeasy and did not get in as a dancer she auditioned as a singer. Than in year , Billie Holiday was discovered and signed by John Hammond. Whom was an American music producer, Civil Rights Activist and music critic.

Wishing on the Moon covered Billie Holiday's collaborations with the greats such as Lester Young, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington, it displayed ow these collaborations helped Billie Holiday establish her own true identity. The book ended with the death of Billie Holiday due to her developed heroin addiction. It was a tough year of when she preformed her last song and soon pasted. The delivery style of this book was utterly amazing, it refrained from using cloudy information and words to make her life seem glorious, it told her life story right to the point. Which on the long run, and it easier to read.

The story although very blunt did move me, because although she impacted the souls and hearts of many, she also had to battle her own internal struggle, which made her also human and not above anyone. I did learn something that many should take with them that if they work hard, they can achieve greatness.

Billie Holiday - Singer - Mini Bio - BIO

But, it also taught me to not get so overwhelmed, were the only answer is to put your body in danger, by using harmful chemicals such as drugs etc. Giving this book a rating this book would hands down be a five, although it is lengthy it is worth all the effort in order to read it because, it takes you on a wild journey through the streets of Harlem to the stage. This book gave me full and proper insight about the life of Billie Holiday, and did not leave me with any questions. This book was written in and recorded by Anna Fields in , who is no longer alive, and whose narrations I still miss.

In fact, if I had to say anything negative about this book, it is that we discussed and analyzed every song recorded by Billie, who was the band, where it was recorded, etc. In spite of that, there is so much to know that has never been satisfactorily covered. The book is totally one of stories about her life from the people who were her closest friends and confidantes. She got into fights if she got angry, fights in which she gave as good as she got much of the time.

Her last days are unbelievable. She was 44 and in the hospital due to total malnutrition. She managed to get herself fixed up on heroin even in the hospital, so a nurse turned her in. She was arrested in the hospital and no one was allowed to come in to see her for fear she would get more drugs. This all happened while she was in fact dying. She never got the fame she deserved in life, although her audiences loved her even on a bad day, but Clark says all of her songs are still available on records 50 years later.

Oct 30, Marshall rated it it was amazing. Billie Holiday had a gift for singing, but not for living. In this book, we learn of her rise through a natural gift, her career peak during the late 30s-late 40s, her descent into drug addiction. Holiday had a wretched childhood that ended abruptly when she was forced into a life of prostitution which abruptly ended at 14 with her arrest. Life was so uncertain that life at a Catholic girls reform school in Baltimore was recalled by Billie sentimentally.

As is the case with so many artists, it i Billie Holiday had a gift for singing, but not for living. As is the case with so many artists, it is impossible to grow up without a childhood. Her life was a series of mistakes and misadventures that ended with her dying handcuffed to her hospital bed, dying of alcoholism complicated by drug addiction before she was Holiday's life on the stage was for the most part where she achieved transcendence.

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth review – reclaiming Lady Day's artistry

Despite being a bit of a handful, she worked with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, some of the best names in the business at the height of the jazz era. Her romantic life was dreadful, tinged with masochistic entanglements and heavily fused by substance abuse, with heroin proving to be her downfall. Billie's horrible wonderful life is ably chronicled in this book, which has to be one of the best biographies ever written. Donald Clark weaves a series of interviews into a fascinating mosaic of an incomparable artist with an intemperate life.

View all 6 comments. She had a remarkable ear … and a remarkable sense of time …. Nicholson It begins with the lines:. Davis Monroe probably introduced her to opium, the drug of choice among the hip elite. When Monroe was convicted of drug smuggling, Holiday took up with Joe Guy, a musician who also supplied her with drugs at outlandish cost. Haunted by a deep fear of loneliness, she became dependent on her male lovers to an abnormal degree, and was even more open to exploitation and abuse Nicholson In Billie Holiday and Joe Guy were arrested and charged with receiving and concealing a narcotic drug; Guy was found innocent, but Billie, whose manager refused to arrange legal counsel for her, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year and a day at the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderston, Virginia.

Here she received medical treatment and successfully ended her drug dependency before she was released on parole. However, because of her felony conviction, she was denied the Cabaret Card which would permit her to perform in New York night clubs where alcohol was served. Deprived of her major source of income, Holiday was forced to find other venues and tour other cities.

Surrounded once more by her old crowd of pushers and leeches, she soon relapsed. A second arrest for drug possession in ended in her acquittal. Certainly both Lady Day and Lady Peel enjoyed living it up and both enjoyed hanging out together. Her relationship with Louis McKay, starting in , seemed to give her a sense of security and the ability to shake off or at least reduce her drug habit for a time. In she was again arrested for narcotics possession, this time with Louis McKay. They married in in order to avoid having to testify against each other. But McKay left when Billie took up with yet another manipulative and abusive pseudo-fan, the attorney Earle Zaidins.

On May 30 , after months of declining health — by now she weighed barely 95 pounds — Billie Holiday collapsed and was taken to the hospital. She was diagnosed with a liver ailment brought on by excessive alcohol consumption complicated by cardiac failure, followed by a kidney infection and congestion in the lungs. Her comic books, record player and records were taken away, and guards were posted at her door. But this time Billie Holiday eluded prosecution: she died, virtually penniless, on July 17 at age Author: Joey Horsley.

No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn't music. Lady Sings the Blues. This association placed her among the first Black women to work with a white orchestra, an unusual arrangement for the times. In situations where there was a lot of racial tension, Shaw was known to stick up for his vocalist.

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Holiday describes one incident in her autobiography where she could not sit on the bandstand with other vocalists because she was Black. Artie Shaw was one the first leaders of a racially integrated jazz orchestra. Holiday lost her temper and needed to be escorted off the stage. Because of their success, they were given an extra time slot to broadcast in April, which increased their exposure. The songs were more instrumental with fewer vocals. Shaw was also pressured to hire a white singer, Nita Bradley, with whom Holiday did not get along but had to share a bandstand. In November Holiday was asked to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel instead of the passenger elevator, because white patrons of the hotels complained.

This may have been the last straw for her. She left the band shortly after. By the late s, Billie Holiday had toured with Count Basie and Artie Shaw, scored a string of radio and retail hits with Teddy Wilson, and became an established artist in the recording industry. Her record label Vocalion listed the single as its fourth best seller for the same month.

With some reservations, she performed it at the club in Holiday reportedly feared possible political retaliation, even in famously liberal New York City. She later recorded it again for Verve. Some clubs refused to allow Billie Holiday to sing what had become her signature song. She was often forced to insist on contracts specifying her right to sing it. But contract or not, her performance still met with hostility in many venues.


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Billie Holiday, age 2 in Billie and her mother. John Hammond. Click this photo for the lyrics and a performance.